MILAN (VN) — As the 2013 season approaches, teams are completing their rosters; riders are transferring here and there, and several neo-professionals are joining the ranks.
The first-division teams — the UCI will define the 18 by early December — start their season in Australia at the Tour Down Under in only 10 weeks’ time. Already they are planning camps in southern Italy and Spain.
Sky, with Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, had its meet-and-greet in October with new American signings Joe Dombrowski and Ian Boswell attending.
Movistar signs Dowsett
British national time trial champion Alex Dowsett leaves Sky for Spain’s top team, Movistar.
“This isn’t a decision I have taken lightly,” the 24-year-old told The Guardian. “Sky is a fantastic team and I was flattered that they wanted me to stay but I have a new opportunity and a new chapter of my career.”
Longtime Liquigas mountain domestique Sylvester Szmyd transfers over as well. Colombia’s 22-year-old Argiro Ospina will debut as a pro on the team after winning one of the most demanding stages of the Clásico RCN stage race this year.
Colombians on the move
Colombia’s Carlos Verona, only 20 years old, will debut with Omega Pharma-Quick Step. “Next season will be a unique opportunity for him to race at a high level,” the team’s general manager, Patrick Lefevere, said in a press release.
Another Colombian, Tour de Langkawi winner José Serpa, leaves Androni Giocattoli for Lampre-Merida. Carlos Betancur won the Giro dell’Emilia last year and the Trofeo Melinda this year. As Acqua & Sapone pulls the plug, he steps up to French first-division team Ag2r La Mondiale.
Garmin-Sharp adds Van Hoff
Garmin-Sharp announced this week that it signed Aussie sprinter Steele Von Hoff. He debuts in the pro ranks after racing for Garmin’s feeder team. Jonathan Vaughters, the team’s general manager, said in a press release, “We know that he will be an important addition for next season – he already showed what he can do at the Pro Tour level as a stagiaire through the fall.”
American Tom Peterson leaves to join Dutch team Argos-Shimano, which is due to receive a first-division license. Sep Vanmarcke, winner of this year’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, joins ‘White Label’ Rabobank and Heinrich Haussler joins IAM Cycling.
Thomas Löfkvist also joins the new second-division Swiss team IAM after three years with Sky.
Il mercato Italiano
Italy’s top team loses its main sponsor but gets greater support from Cannondale. It announced Wednesday that it signed Canada’s David Boily and Guillaume Boivin from SpiderTech. Dane Brian Vandborg, who raced with the team in 2009 and 2010, returns to the squad. Two weeks ago, it also announced signing Japanese neo-pro Nariyuki Masuda.
Valerio Agnoli leaves, with Astana making his contract official last week. He links up with Alessandro Vanotti to help their former Liquigas captain Vincenzo Nibali win grand tours.
Italy’s top team, Lampre, welcomes young sprinters Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (from Nippo) and Roberto Ferrari (Androni). Ferrari, who won the 11th stage of the 2012 Giro d’Italia in Montecatini Terme, had earlier caused Taylor Phinney and Mark Cavendish to crash in the third stage. The latter was unhappy to hear he had joined the first division.
Speaking with Radio Manà Manà Sport, Ferrari said: “I thought everything had been forgotten after the Giro. Now, I just hope to be able to beat him again.”
Lampre also welcomes new co-sponsor Merida as Ukrainian backer ISD scales back. Without its financial support, Lampre’s five Ukrainian riders are left scanning the help-wanted ads.